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Covid-19 has transformed our society. Within weeks of the first infections being identified in Scotland the country was in lockdown. Unprecedented restrictions were imposed on people’s lives, many businesses were closed, workers were furloughed or shifted to home-working, while education and learning all moved online. Both the Scottish and UK governments were granted extensive emergency powers to allow swift responses to the crisis. Other activity was suspended while the focus of government, local councils, and the NHS was redeployed to tackle the virus and the many challenges the pandemic created. The impact of the pandemic has been devastating with thousands of lives lost, families separated from loved ones, people shielding, businesses closing, and workers struggling to pay the bills and make ends meet.

The reality is that the Covid-19 is not going away but two years on there is hope. Research and innovation have given us tools like testing to identify and help contain outbreaks. Vaccines have helped reduced the severity of infections and we have new treatments in antivirals for those who become ill.

The situation we now face is very different to that of March 2020 and yet too often the response from the Scottish government is still to act like we are living in perpetual crisis. Two years into the pandemic we should have built more resilience into our response systems and public services. Uncertainty about the future and the continued peril of new restrictions is damaging for the economy and has a detrimental impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. People cannot be expected to live their lives subject to ad-hoc and last minute decision-making from government.

Going forward we need a new approach. One that makes use of the knowledge we now have about the virus to prevent the illness and disruption it causes. And we need a new plan for how we tackle future pandemics and national crises, one that is based on the lessons and mistakes from the past two years.

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